Top Albums of 2011

ALTERNATIVE
Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (Hard Alternative Rock/Pop)
Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain In the Cloud (Indie/Alternative Rock)
Primus – Green Naugahyde (Alternative/Funk/Rock)
Puscifer – Conditions of My Parole (Alternative/Experimental)
Radiohead – the King of Limbs (Alternative/Experimental)
the Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You (Alternative Rock/Funk/Pop)
Rival Schools – Pedals (Hard Alternative Rock)

FOLK
Bon Iver – Bon Iver (Indie/Folk/Pop)
Eddie Vedder – Ukulele Songs (Folk)
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Indie/Folk)
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Indie/Folk)
Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts (Alternative/Folk)

HIP HOP
the Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II (Rap/Hip Hop)
the Roots – Undun (Rap/Hip Hop)
Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows (Rap/Hip Hop)

INDIE
Company of Thieves – Running from a Gamble (Indie Rock)
Stateless – Matilda (Electro/Indie)
Tune-Yards – W H O K I L L (Experimental/Indie)
TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light (Indie Rock/Alternative)
Vetiver – the Errant Charm (Indie Rock/Folk)
Yukon Blonde – Fire/Water (Indie Rock)

METAL
Animals as Leaders – Weightless (Progressive Metal/Instrumental/Djent/Fusion)
Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep  Dialogues (Progressive Grind Metal)
Chaos Divine – The Human Connection (Progressive Metal)
Circles – the Compass (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Corelia – Nostalgia (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy (Progressive Metal/Fusion)
The Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction (Progressive Extreme Metal)
the Haunted – Unseen (Melodic Death Metal)
the Human Abstract – Digital Veil (Progressive Metalcore)
Leprous – Bilateral (Progressive Metal)
Mastodon – The Hunter (Progressive Doom Metal/Rock)
Monstro – Monstro (Doom Metal/Hard Rock)
Protest the Hero – Scurrilous (Progressive Metal/Thrash/Punk)
Red Seas Fire – Red Seas Fire (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Revocation – Chaos of Forms (Death/Thrash Metal)
Scale the Summit – the Collective (Progressive Metal/Instrumental)
TesseracT – One (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Textures – Dualism (Progressive Metal/Djent)

ELECTRO
Bjork – Biophilia (Experimental/Pop)
James Blake – James Blake (Indie/Experimental)
SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Electro)

POP
The Black Keys – El Camino (Alternative/Blues/Rock)
Foster the People – Torches (Indie Rock/Pop)
Gotye – Making Mirrors (New Age/Indie/Pop)
Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting (Pop)
The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (Alternative Rock/Pop)
Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Electro/Pop)
Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do (Motown/Soul)
Mutemath – Odd Soul (Pop/Rock)
Sublime with Rome – Yours Truly (Alternative/Pop)

PROGRESSIVE ROCK
The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum (Progressive Rock/Alternative)
the Devin Townsend Project – Ghost (Progressive Rock/New Age)
Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors (Progressive Rock/Metal)
Opeth – Heritage (Progressive Rock/Metal)
3 – The Ghost You Gave to Me (Progressive Rock/Metal)

PUNK/HARDCORE
Glassjaw – Coloring Book (Post Hardcore/Punk)
Le Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin (Punk/Alternative Rock)
Thrice – Major/Minor (Hard Alternative Rock/Punk)

MY TOP 10
1. Gotye – Making Mirrors
2. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
3. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
4. TesseracT – One
5. Radiohead – the King of Limbs
6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
7. Stateless – Matilda
8. the Black Keys – El Camino
9. Rival Schools – Pedals
10. the Joy Formidable – the Big Roar

Party on.

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5 Albums that kicked me in the teeth this year.

Ouch my poor teeth.

These albums have all kept me occupied in some way, shape, or form over the past 9 months. They were comfort in my time of need, need in my time of comfort, a distraction in a time of boredom, and made listening to music every day all the more interesting.

I listen to a lot of Metal as you will be able to tell, but fear not, although I am a Metalhead, I’m also a softy. It may not make much sense, but it seemed they made me like a sponge, only one that’s already cleaned your dishes.. so to speak.

NinjaSpy – Pi Nature

This album dropped into my lap one day early in the year and seemingly came out of nowhere. “Who the hell is this ridiculous trio screaming and yelling, and skanking through my headphones?” NinjaSpy. A Triad in Blood. Three brothers from the Vancouver area, discovered by GGGarth Richardson who proceeded to record their first Full Length album and release it to the unwitting masses, most of whom still haven’t heard of the band. They are unsigned as far as I know and I had the pleasure of enjoying their show at the Annex Wreck Room this summer for North by Northeast Festival. They rocked out to about 20 of us all gawking at them while hanging off the bar, which probably made them feel like Zoo animals. Sorry guys if we made you feel uncomfortable, but you still played as if the place was packed so all the power to you. The album itself is a blend of Hardcore, Punk, Ska, Rock & Metal, which to me is a recipe for brilliance. I urge everyone who can stand a bit of shouting and yelling to check out this band, you may just re-evaluate your existence.

Protest the Hero – Fortress

They came, they saw, they conquored, and they built their own palace with this album. Whitby’s Protest the Hero are winning an audience left, right, and centre in the metal community, and their latest installment is no different than their previous trend-setting concept album “Kezia”. They have come a long way since their days of small town Punk Rock shows (some of which I may have attended, although I’m never quite sure) This album starts off with a bang and is unrelenting for the entire duration of the record. If you want a full-on sonic assault of Melodic and Technical Metal you’ve come to the right place. This album has “timeless” written all over it, and I’m already spotting some copy cat bands coming out of the woodwork. I personally can’t wait for their next album, because I’ve pretty much worn this one out by repeated listens.

Meshuggah – Obzen

The masters are back. Meshuggah, arguably the greatest true Metal band in the world right now. They’ve turned it up a notch with this latest album, easily their most accessible effort yet. This album comes on the heals of the ambitious concept album “Catch 33” which was by and large one single composition, abstractly split up, and a very demanding listen. Now listening to Meshuggah at all for any extended period of time is a challenge to almost any listener, but “Obzen” has some familiarity to it. For one, the songs are shorter and faster. It keeps a pretty steady pace for most of the record, and if you’re familiar with the band, there’s is nearly nothing to disappoint in my opinion. Meshuggah is a pleasure and a challenge to listen to and understand, and if you’re looking for very heavy music, with very complex composition, look no further. There’s something to be said for creating music with the sole purpose of being complex, some do it masterfully, some attempt it and fail miserably. One must know where to draw the line, and that line is Meshuggah.

Sikth – Death of a Dead Day

Sikth, dead before I even knew you. I found out about this band as they were announcing their break-up. This left me like a deer in headlights, unable to form a coherent sentence, as I tried to describe the band to my colleagues. “There’s um these guys, they’re… I can’t believe… how did I not know… what’s happening to me!?!” It was a dire situation, and consulation was sought. Conveniently enough, news of their demise caused a deep depression in me, a depression followed by inspiration, one that was only counter-balanced by listening to their album “Death of a Dead Day” every single day for a week or two straight. This provided me with the momentum I needed to bring meaning back into my life and reason to live another day, as their break-up nearly crushed my soul and spirit outright, like it would any casual listener I’m sure. The band (from the UK), blends Technical, syncopated riffing, with dualing vocals (they have two singers), and a Progressive/Theatrical nature, not seen since… ever! This band blew me away with their technicality and musical maturity, and also with their sonicly-crushing metal storm. My only regret is never being able to see them live. Maybe some day.

Misery Signals – Controller

This one capped off my summer nicely. Produced by eccentric-puppet master Devin Townsend, this album straight-up kicked me in the face.. hard. I couldn’t get enough of it. People would tell me to stop playing this album so much. I really don’t know why I liked it as much as I did? It wasn’t like anything else I was normally found listening to. It had this kind of polished, driven, focused vibe to it. Like the band never had any doubt about what they were creating when they were doing this record. The songs were crushing, intricate, and melodic. The vocals were tough, powerful, focused and clear. You can hear every word that comes out of the singer’s mouth. I could really latch onto the lyrics and it would motivate me when I listened to it. It just simply made me feel good to put on this record. I feel this album is leaps and bounds better than their previous effort “Mirrors”, which wasn’t bad by any means but did not turn out nearly as well as this record did. It could be the influence of Devin that has this band pulling out it’s best. That combination looks like a perfect match and I hope the band will go back to Devin again in the future. This album is as real as Metal gets and if you’re open to honesty and stripping away metal cliches then this is worth checking out. I highly recommend.

Now go out and listen to all of these albums, or you will be forever ignorant of their mastery.

Splurge,

Jon